According to Zoro, smart toilets and other high-tech bathroom and kitchen appliances are on the rise for homeowners. Whether you’re new to the industry or a master technician, you may think you know what the best tools are to fix them.
The truth is, the plumbing industry is evolving, and a lot of the trusty, must-have tools are slowly being made obsolete by better-designed and more efficient products. As a plumber, you are required to juggle many different types of tools – hand tools, cutting tools, unclogging tools, and more – to perform your job efficiently.
Check out our list of the 35 best plumbing tools for 2021 to see if you need to add or remove any of your current equipment to get the job done better.
35 plumbing tools to always have in your toolbox
- Open-end wrench
An open-end wrench has jaws with a fixed wide opening on both ends. It’s one of the best plumbing tools when it comes to working in tight spaces. The U-shaped opening allows technicians to access the side of nuts or bolts where a socket or box wrench would have difficulty reaching.
- Pipe wrench
This wrench has serrated jaws to create a strong grip around pipes. Many pipe wrenches on the market, like Milwaukee’s 14 in. steel pipe wrench, save you from carrying around 3-4 wrenches on the job. It has adjustable jaws that you can change from 10 in. all the way up to 24 in. It also helps you get around in tight areas.
- Basin wrench
A basin wrench is the best plumbing tool to remove or install a faucet. Standard wrenches don’t cut it when you’re trying to reach for nuts, which are usually positioned low and on the underside of the sink, behind the basin. A basin wrench is made specifically to conquer this task.
- Combination wrench
A combination wrench has one U-shaped end and one socket end. With this tool, you can use the box end for loosening nuts and the open end for fast turning. The benefit of using it is that you can apply pressure and force to the socket end without damaging the fastener.
- Box-end wrench
Box-end wrenches have sockets on both ends that enclose nuts and bolts. They usually have 6, 8, 12, or 16 points inside the head. These wrenches are an alternative to U-shaped wrenches because they help you tackle recessed bolts in tight spaces.
- Garbage disposal wrench
Are you working on clogged or damaged garbage disposal? Reach into your toolbox and grab a garbage disposal wrench. This is one of the best plumbing tools to help you quickly and easily clear simple jams. By inserting the wrench into the bottom of the disposal, you can break loose the clogs inside so it can run smoothly without damaging the disposal.
- Shower valve socket wrench
A shower valve socket wrench is a long wrench made to remove hex tub and shower stems, bonnets, and packing nuts. Because of its long design, this tool is ideal for plumbers who work in recessed areas.
Pipe cutting and bending tools
A classic plumber’s tool to cut steel pipes or sheet metal. This tool comes in several different blades: a regular blade that works well for softer metals that don’t contain iron, a raker blade that can cut into thick metals, and a wavy blade that’s best for hard, thin metals.
- Metal file
A metal file is one of the best plumbing tools for cutting metal. You have single-cut and double-cut metal files. Single-cut teeth have rows that are engraved parallel to each other, which are best for smoothing metal edges. Double-cut have crisscrossed teeth that become diamond shaped when you cut, and help to cut quickly.
- Hose cutter
A hose cutter is a cutting tool that will help plumbers cut flexible hoses like fuel lines, marine fuel lines, and other hoses around commercial buildings and homes. This tool can also be used to cut plastic pipes.
- Hole saw
A hole dozer is an annular saw blade that can drill through wood, plastic, aluminum, metal, and other materials. It’s a cordless tool that comes in several hole sizes. It allows for faster cutting, delivering 25% more holes per charge and less downtime between each charge.
- Tube cutter
Cutting tubes is a job that plumbers expect to do daily. That’s why you’ll need the best plumbing tools to get the job done—a tube cutter made specifically for this task. It will help you cut through tubes and copper like butter. They prevent technicians from needing to exert a lot of force and make pipework faster and easier. It is a lightweight tool that you can use with one hand.
- Pipe bender
A pipe bender helps bend and mold soft metal tubing without kinking or flattening the tube. It offers precision when plumbers are doing pipework. If you’re currently using multiple tools for this job, look no further than this one specialized tool.
- Jab saw
Unlike a traditional saw, the jab saw has unique teeth that cut downward, slicing your cutting time in half. This saw is ideal for cutting plastic, drywall, and other building materials while also helping you cut a straight line easily.
Soldering and Sealant tools
- Plumber’s torch
Want the best plumber’s tool for both large and small soldering projects? When choosing a torch, many plumbers end up with a one not made specifically for them, and it shows in its performance and your final results. Get a plumber’s torch that’s built for light soldering, heat treating, brazing, and more.
- Caulk and caulk gun
When you’re dealing with leaky pipes and fixtures, caulk is one of the first tools that comes to mind to seal everything up. This filler and sealant is a must-have for plumbers, as well as a good caulk gun. A caulk gun allows you to hold the caulk tube in place and have excellent application precision.
- Thread sealing tape
Thread sealing tape is the best plumber’s tool for patching up leaks, tears, and holes. This tape is used to seal pipe threads, holding in oxygen, water, oil, and gas. Make sure to get a tape that is non-toxic and not flammable to reduce the risk of contamination that is common with liquid and paste sealants.
- Plumber’s putty
Plumber’s putty is another sealant and one of the best plumber’s tools on our list. This putty is water-repellant and remains soft and moldable for a long time. That way, if you make any mistakes on the job, you can reverse and loosen the seal to make corrections.
- Teflon tape
Teflon tape is a plumber’s tape that works as a sealant on threaded pipe joints. It helps lubricate connections and makes the threading a bit smoother. It also stops pipes from sticking when you want to break apart the joints.
Plungers and unclogging tools
- Toilet plunger
A toilet plunger today should fit old- and new-style toilet bowls, so you will be prepared for any job. When you’re called to retrieve a toy a toddler flushed down the toilet or to fix an old toilet, it must be able to fit all shapes and sizes with a firm seal, so you don’t have to overwork your biceps to unclog the bowl.
- Hand auger
This hand tool unclogs drains and can be used by your seasoned pros and your beginner plumbers alike. It’s not ideal for unclogging a toilet bowl because it may damage the drain, but it works well on kitchen and bathroom sinks, bathtubs, showers, and drainage pipes.
- Sink plunger
If you need to clear sink drains, a sink plunger should be on your must-have list. This is not the time to use a toilet plunger (and yes, we’ve seen it happen!). When you’re dealing with grease buildup, hair, and food caught in drains, you need the best plumbing tool that’s small enough to create a secure seal over the drain opening to suck the materials out.
- Snake machine
A snake machine is one investment every pro should make. Unlike the hand auger, this is a motorized and powerful drain cleaning machine made for commercial and industrial drain cleaning. It’ll set you back a couple of hundred dollars, but it’s necessary to work efficiently and quickly on large properties.
- Accordion plunger
Accordion plungers look quite odd, don’t they? But what really makes them special is their concentrated power and suction. An accordion plunger can unclog stubborn obstacles sitting in your bowl even after a standard plunger fails. With its unique design, it doesn’t fold inward, which prevents disgusting, unsanitary water and particles from getting on you. It should be on your list of best plumbing tools.
- Taze plunger
A taze plunger is made especially for large pipes rather than the typical sink drain. It comes with several discs to fit particular pipe sizes and a long steel rod that pushes the disc into the pipe. If a plumbing snake or a traditional plunger doesn’t work, and you’re working with a large drain, try a taze plunger instead.
- Slip joint pliers
This is a gripping hand tool that has serrated jaws – one of our choices for the best plumbing tool. You can replace your standard pliers with this upgraded version that has a wider jaw capacity. It has a pivot point that provides for two widths of jaw opening.
- Tongue and groove pliers
Tongue and groove pliers have adjustable pivots and usually adjust a lot more than slip joint pliers. The handle is usually longer, making it easier to access pipes in tighter and recessed spaces.
Optical tools and eye gear
A borescope is an optical inspection tool that technicians can insert down pipes to get a better view. It leaves no surprises about what’s going on inside the drain or sewer you’re working on, allowing you to develop a plan to fix the problem before you open everything up. Get a high-quality borescope to get to the root of the problem in a timely manner.
- Eye Goggles
You’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes from chemical splashes, debris, heat, smoke, dust, and a whole bunch of other nasty things floating around when you’re cutting, drilling, sawing, and plunging. They should be sturdy, shatter resistant, and if you’re already wearing glasses, they should fit over them comfortably.
- Hand Gloves
Believe it or not, there are still some plumbers who do certain jobs without gloves (yuck). Their argument is that gloves stop their sense of touch. We say—always wear your hand gloves. Buy the best plumbing tool to accommodate the different types of jobs you have. Gloves for heat work, disposable nitrile gloves for messy jobs, and cut-resistant gloves to protect you against lacerations.
- Heat shield pads
Some of the best plumber’s tools that are often overlooked are heat shield pads. They are pads that you lay underneath your body when you’re on hot asphalt, welding pipes, or in moist areas. You can also just use it to cushion your legs.
Business apps and tools to always have on you
- Workiz’s Plumbing Scheduling Software
Workiz is a field service management and scheduling software for plumbers. It’s an all-around tool that you can access from your mobile phone or desktop to accept jobs, send invoices, communicate with your team, send client updates, check your inventory levels, and run your business effectively.
- Pipe calculator
Pipe Trades Pro is one of the best plumbing tools for pipe calculations. It helps technicians with design and layout problems, pipe area and fills weights, complex rolling offsets, flow rates, velocity, and more.
- Construction pencils and markers
When you’re out in the field, you’ll need to have pencils, pens, and markers with you at all times. Even if you’ve switched over to technology, if that fails, you’ll need to have a backup. To write on dusty, wet, or oily paper, pull out a construction pencil, pen, or marker to complete the job. They are made to write better than your average utensils.
- Plumbing tape measure
You’ll need to measure pipes and the areas that you work on. A plumbing tape measure helps you measure the outer diameter and enables you to mark lines around the pipe. A pipe size conversion chart is printed on these rulers. They’re made of fiber-reinforced rubber to protect them against grease, oil, gasoline, and saltwater stains.
Time to update your toolbox?
As the plumbing industry continues to advance and evolve, plumbers find that a lot of the old, standard tools will no longer help them work efficiently enough on the job to keep up with competitors. In fact, keeping these tools around in your toolbox or truck may be hurting your performance.
This is especially true when it comes to technology. If you’re still using pen and paper to manage jobs, you need to get a field service management and scheduling app like Workiz. It’s the best plumbing tool to save you countless hours when organizing, traveling to, and completing jobs.
Sign up for a free 7-day trial of Workiz today!